Wed, 04 October 2023
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Wagner halts Moscow advance after mediation by Minsk

Update : 25 Jun 2023, 02:02

The Belarusian president and Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin say they have agreed on a deal to halt the force's mutiny in Russia. Wagner troops had been moving on Moscow.

Wagner forces begin pullout of Russia's Rostov-on-Don

Fighters from Russia's private Wagner military group began to withdraw from Rostov-on-Don late Saturday after seizing the southern Russian city earlier in the day a mutiny against the Kremlin.

News agencies cited witnesses as seeing the fighters leave the city, where Wagner had occupied military facilities that are controlling the country's invasion of Ukraine.

An AFP reporter at the scene saw a tank, several cargo trucks and several minivans carrying fighters leave the military headquarters.

Earlier Saturday, some of Wagner's forces had begun moving north from Rostov-on-Don toward Moscow for an apparent showdown with the Russian defense establishment.

However, the uprising was reversed when Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko agreed on a deal, with Russian President Vladimir Putin's permission.

It wasn't immediately clear what concessions, if any, Putin may have made to Prigozhin.

Zelenskyy: Masters of Russia 'control nothing'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the revolt by Wagner mercenaries had revealed the "chaos" within Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime.

"The world can see that the masters of Russia control nothing. And that means nothing. Simply complete chaos," he said in his nightly video address.

"In one day, they lost several of their million-plus cities and showed all Russian bandits, mercenaries, oligarchs and anyone else how easy it is to capture Russian cities and, probably, arsenals with weapons," Zelenskyy added.

He said that Putin was "obviously very afraid" and was likely "hiding somewhere and "no longer in Moscow."

He warned that the next round of chaos in Russia would be "even more dangerous."

Belarus: Wagner chief agrees to deescalate Russia mutiny

The office of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has agreed to deescalate his force's mutiny.

Lukashenko's office said the president spoke to Prigozhin with the permission of Russian President Vladimir Putin to broker a deal to halt the movement of Wagner's mercenaries across Russia.

Belarus said an agreement that guarantees the safety of Wagner fighters is on the table.

The announcement was carried on the official Telegram channel of the Belarusian president.

Prigozhin quickly confirmed the deal, saying: "We are turning our columns around and going back to field camps."

He said he understood the importance of the moment and did not want to "spill Russian blood."

Prigozhin didn't say whether the Kremlin has responded to his demand to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin but the deal might defuse a crisis that appeared to be escalating rapidly

Earlier, the Kremlin called on Prigozhin's troops to surrender, hours after they sent a tank convoy in the direction of Moscow in an apparent act of rebellion against the Russian military.

The troops were just 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the capital, according to Prigozhin.

Ukrainian envoy: Collapse of Putin regime 'a matter of time'

Andriy Melnyk, a Ukrainian foreign envoy, says it is only a matter of time before Russian President Vladimir Putin is ousted.

"With the Wagner coup, the Rubicon has been crossed and a new era of power decline and instability in Russia has been ushered in," Melnyk told Germany's t-online news site.

Melnyk said that while Putin may succeed in bloodily putting down the uprising and "halfway restoring order," this will not "save the Kremlin from the internal chaos that is brewing."

Melnyk, who served as Ukrainian ambassador to Germany from 2015 to 2022, became well-known in the country for his frank and outspoken statements.

Putin signs off on martial law penalties

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed off on new punishments for violations of martial law, including up to 30 days in jail and fines.

The new law does not, however, list specific violations like abuse of curfews or the refusal to work.

Officially, martial law has not yet been imposed in Moscow but is in force in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine such as Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

On Saturday, several Russian regions declared an anti-terror emergency amid the Wagner mercenary army's uprising.

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